Thursday, January 29, 2009

Can a Luxury Mechanical Watch Remember?

And with this question lingering on the lips of Maurice Lacroix's specialized group of highly skilled watch makers, Atelier, a brand new complication was born: A mechanical watch that can remember. The Memoire 1. The Atelier achieved what had only previously been achieved in a quartz watch.
To glance at the watch one can see the timeless beauty and exceptional lines, but it is also clear that this timepiece has a greater agenda than tracking time. This watch has the world's first mechanical memory function. The watch case with its multi leveled dial portray a sense of exciting and mysterious depth. The white gold is stark against the alternating black on the dial. To add to the depth of this watch is the screw fitted bezel which has a laterally mounted scratch resistant sapphire crystal. The side viewing gives the impression of a show case window whereby every incredible motion of the watch is captured by the wearer. Through the bezel one can view the second hand which is linked to the minutes.
Integrated in the crown at the 3 'o'clock position is ,a one of a kind feature, the mode selection button.
How does the memory function operate? When one presses the mode selection button, the mode switches from "Time" to "Chrono". In an instant the watch's hand and the hour disc change positions. If their previous function was to display the current time, the hands and the hour disc is in place to measure time intervals. Now when one presses the mode selection button again, the hands switch back to displaying the current precise time. It is possible for one to switch the mode back and forth numerous times, and no information within either mode is lost. The timepiece in effect has remembered the information from the previous mode thus the Memoire 1 is able to show the elapsed time while still remembering the current time. The same two hands and hour disc is utilized for both the chrono and the time function. This is a groundbreaking complication.

Other noteworthy unique features of the Memoire 1:
  • A skeleton section is located with an aperture at the 6 'o'clock position which shows the movement behind the memory mechanism for the seconds.
  • The date is displayed on its individual inclined disc which is noticeable at first glance and does not detract from the other complicated mechanisms of the watch. I have seen so many dates that seem to clutter a dial that the placement of this date aperture is quite brilliant.
  • The transparent hour disc is not made from sapphire crystal as you might expect, through many tests and experiments the experts of Atelier decided Sapphire crystal was too weak for this particular function; instead, they used a mineral based material that had already been used in the car and cellphone industry. The material was treated to ensure its hardness and flexibility.
  • The second hand is blued and mounted on the outer edge of the minutes ring.
  • The minute hand is coated with a white luminous coating which glows blue in the dark.
  • A skeleton hand at the 3 'o' clock position marks the selected mode whether "Time" or "Chrono"
  • The memory function is powered by the ML 128 manufacture movement.
  • The Memoire 1 is comprised of 537 components.

This watch is an incredible achievement of the Atelier. It is a wonder what Atelier will come up with next.

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